THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has adopted amendments to the rules on net metering, the program that allows ordinary electricity consumers with their own power generation systems to sell their excess capacity to the distribution grid.

ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Agnes VST Devanadera said the amended net-metering rules address the concerns raised by various stakeholders on the program’s implementation.

The amendment is covered by Resolution No. 06, Series of 2019, the Rules Enabling the Net-Metering Program for Renewable Energy. The amended program, among others, simplifies the process for ordinary electricity consumer to become a “prosumer.”

“It provides benefits that work for the welfare of the prosumers or Qualified End-User, including a simplified permitting procedure and reduced installation soft costs for renewable energy facilities, among others. It likewise takes into account the impact of this program to non-net-metering customers,” she said in a statement on Friday.

The net metering program is a non-fiscal incentive mandated by the Renewable Energy Act. To implement this incentive, the ERC promulgated the rules as early as 2013, but at that time concerns were raised by the stakeholders, the ERC said.

Ms. Devanadera said the program is “ERC’s contribution to empower the consumers.”

The amended rules prescribe a maximum 20-day processing timeline for the distribution utilities (DUs) to complete the whole interconnection process from receipt of the letter of interest; provided all necessary permits and licenses from various concerned agencies are secured and completed.

The distribution impact study (DIS) fee and other related soft costs were also removed in order to encourage participation from end-users. The ERC has considered that the conduct of DIS is a regular activity of the DU to ensure the reliability and stability of the distribution system.

The ERC said it deemed it unnecessary to impose additional charges for holding the DIS.

The pricing methodology under the amended rules maintained the DUs’ blended generation cost excluding other generation adjustments, instead of the proposed retail rate. Adopting the blended generation cost as basis for pricing would result in the avoidance of higher cost of electricity for consumers, the ERC said.

The amendment also rationalized the sharing of lifeline rate subsidy among all consumers. — Victor V. Saulon